Photo by District 46 resident Jeremy Rosendale
The 433rd Session of the Maryland General Assembly ended at midnight on April 8, after 90 days of intense activity. Over the course of the Session, we came together for what has been called one of the most productive Sessions in generations.
Working together, we invested in education, expanded economic opportunity, protected our community from gun violence, funded transportation infrastructure, protected consumers from predatory debt collectors, and created a more compassionate framework for medical marijuana research. I’ve heard from you regarding these important issues and many others, and I want to thank you for your engagement. I am honored to represent you in the House of Delegates, and I thank you for the opportunity to work with my District 46 colleagues – Senator Bill Ferguson, Delegate Pete Hammen, and Delegate Brian McHale – to represent our community in Annapolis.
For the fifth year in a row Maryland public schools are ranked number one in the country. But, especially in Baltimore City, we have a long way to go. We must give our children the best chance for success by creating an environment where learning is not distracted by crumbling buildings and outdated amenities. Through the tireless work of my colleagues in the Baltimore City Delegation, we were able to secure $1 billion in investment in our city’s school facilities, which will allow the BCPS to bring our schools into the 21st Century, and provide our students with the resources they need to succeed, and the respect they deserve.
I was proud to co-sponsor the EARN program to connect Marylanders with the skills they need to compete. The EARN program will provide funding for workforce training collaborations between businesses, local government, and non-profits so that Maryland’s working families have the skills necessary for employment and advancement into sustainable jobs. As a result of more coordinated and targeted training, the EARN Program will create jobs by closing the gap between the needs of employers, and the skills of Maryland’s workforce.
Preventing Gun Violence
Gun violence remains a serious concern in Baltimore. While I commend the City for the decrease in overall violent crime, the level of gun violence in Baltimore remains unacceptably high. This Session, we gave law enforcement stronger tools to combat gun violence, to deter and prosecute straw purchasers, and to limit the deadliness of guns. I was proud to co-sponsor the Firearms Safety Act of 2013, a comprehensive, common sense approach to dealing with the continuing issue of gun violence while respecting the 2nd Amendment. The Act requires new owners of regulated firearms to be licensed and fingerprinted by the State, bans the deadliest guns and bullets, reduces the ammunition clip size to ten rounds or less, and increasing our attention to mental illness.
I am also pleased that legislation that I introduced to deter and prosecute straw purchasers was incorporated into the Act. The provision (introduced as HB 1077) will require the owner of a firearm to tell police within 72 hours if their gun is lost or stolen. Requiring reporting of lost and stolen guns will help police investigations into gun crimes, and will deter straw purchasers from claiming the weapon was lost or stolen after it is used in a crime.
The 2013 Session saw some significant legislation as it relates to the law related to domesticated animals. We passed legislation to develop a statewide spay and neuter fund to combat overpopulation and stop unnecessary euthanasia of dogs and cats. I co-sponsored legislation to prevent the trade in shark fins that will decrease devastating environmental and ecological impacts. Sadly, the two chambers were unable to come to a compromise to address the Solesky court decision. However, I will continue to work to pass legislation that will allow responsible pet owners to stay in their homes with their dog, no matter the breed.
Baltimore City is in need of transportation and infrastructure improvements. The Transportation Infrastructure Investment Act will tie our state’s gas tax to the rate of inflation so that we can make the investments our transportation infrastructure sorely needs. The Act creates a new 3% sales tax on gasoline that will be phased in by 2016, with the funds generated dedicated to creating new, efficient public transportation options and infrastructure enhancements. While it is essential to provide maintenance funding for our existing infrastructure, we must think innovatively, sustainably, and comprehensively moving forward. I am committed to ensuring that we create, plan, and implement timely, affordable, and dependable modes of public transportation throughout our City. I support improvements to the MARC service, including additional hours on weekends from Penn Station; creation of a multi-line light rail or trolley system that complements existing and proposed transit lines; new circulator lines throughout the City; and better and safer options for bicycle and pedestrian transportation.
This Session saw the passage of legislation that creates a state commission to oversee medical marijuana programs at academic medical research centers. This will provide a scientific basis and understanding for any future legislation regarding marijuana. Another piece of legislation removes caregivers from being held responsible for helping a person with a debilitating medical condition to use prescribed marijuana.
Together, we passed legislation to protect consumers from predatory debt collectors. I introduced HB 596, which will keep people out of jail for failing to pay debt, and prevent collectors from using our courts to bully our citizens.
I co-sponsored legislation that would create a three-year pilot program to allow groups of renters and/or homeowners to develop, install, and utilize renewable energy. This would improve the current law, which says that only individual homes can receive the offset benefits of renewable generation. Although, the legislation did not pass, I am more determined than ever to rework this legislation and come back next Session and pass the bill.
Again, I want to express my sincere gratitude for giving me the opportunity to serve you in the General Assembly. I appreciate your engagement in the legislative process, and I look forward to seeing you this Spring and Summer as I visit the neighborhoods of the 46th District.